“Nevertheless, in that which we have attained, to it shall we conform.”
The principle that Paul is placing before us is that God has brought us out of our sinful estate, yet, having been given that great gift or forgiveness and reconciliation with God, we should strive to conform our lives to the new “status” we have been given. Or, in other words, in salvation we have been brought into the presence of God, pardoned, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and adopted as sons and daughters of the King. We should now live like it. Our behavior should reflect the new household into which we have been brought and not the old household from which we came.
All too often Christians take a passive attitude toward their own sanctification. They think that it is time to sit back and enjoy the ride. While certainly the power of sanctification comes from God, we also share a role as ones who actively participate in said growth or who resist the work of the spirit in a kind of passive-agressive stance.
But how do we do this? The simple answer is that we actively seek to apply the Law of God to our lives and try to obey it in every area, disciplining ourselves in the hopes of conforming to God’s law. I should note that in our culture sometimes people wrongly label this as a form of legalism. Yet it is only legalism if I judge you with a standard by which I am unwilling to judge myself. When one examines the Law of God one can either use the Law as a sledge-hammer or as a mirror. If we use it as a sledge-hammer to beat one another up for each other’s failings, then we will fall into legalism. If we use the Law as a mirror to examine our own life, then it becomes an effective tool in God’s process of sanctification in our lives…this is what Calvin referred to as the “Third Use” of the Law (first two uses are civil morality and to drive us to Christ as we recognize how far short we fall).
Beloved, let us not conform to the things of this world. Let us be conformed to the standard of God’s Kingdom into which we have been brought by Christ.